politics, Travel, Uncategorized

Politics review, Easter 2016. 

These past few weeks have given me a strong basis on which I can easily sprout a blog post on, when it comes to politics, not only in the UK, but on an European and Worldwide basis:
From a more personal point of view, the week commencing on Monday 14th March gave me many opportunities; The sixth form which I attend has a Government and Politics society, which, unsurprisingly, I’m a member of, and they were able to hail not only one, but two political speakers on that week, the first being David Campbell Bannerman, ex UKIP Deputy leader and currently, a Member of European Parliament for the Conservative party, followed by Lord Finkelstein, to end the week. They were both presenting their political cases regarding whether they wished to stay in, or to leave the EU. Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Girls in Elstree also arranged an event that alongside 4 other students, I was able to attend. It was an event in the style of Question Time, the panel including Pete Broadbent- Bishop of Willesden, Keith Vaz- Labour MP for Leicester East, Matthew Parris- Former Conservative MP and writer for The Times, Baron Finkelstein- Conservative Peer and associate editor for The Times, Oliver Dowden- Conservative MP for Hertsmere and Dr Ellie Canon- resident GP for the Mail on a Sunday, regularly writing in magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Spectator. Being surrounded by these figures was a wonderfully enlightening experience. Aside my personal experiences, a lot else has happened, too; The spending review, the resignation of Iain Duncan Smith, multiple terror attacks in Turkey, the Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Baghdad, Brussels, and likely many more. Whether they’ve been given enough Media coverage, they all happened.
It would not be easy to cover every single aspect of Politics in this moment, especially as ‘politics’ can be quite a broad term, but I have selected the above to write about in this Easter time politics review post. Though I must clarify, the word ‘Easter’ is not a word I am using in a religious way, but more in a seasonal fashion.
David Campbell Bannerman was an interesting man to listen to and he very much managed to defy what people would generally expect a United Kingdom Independence Party ex-Deputy leader to be like. I know you shouldn’t presume, but considering the experience had with Douglas Carswell, and even Nadine Dorries, a (more right wing) Tory, in November at the PolECon Conference at Central Hall, Westminster, there’s an expectation that a right wing conservative with UKIP beliefs, at least to an extent, would be unclear and maybe even a little rude. But, honestly? Mr Campbell Bannerman was extremely polite. He had his facts straight and gave a clear and fair argument for the ‘Leave EU’ campaign, which I’m sure was extremely beneficial to many in the room, especially to those who knew little or less than they’d have liked about the referendum and consequences of staying in versus those of leaving the EU. He also considered both sides upon answering our questions, ensuring that he did not appear to be completely biased. We also got a much greater coverage than you’ll find in the media. This does not mean that I support the ‘Leave EU’ campaign. My personal view is that we stay in the EU, but I fully credit Campbell Bannerman for his argument and am very grateful that I had the opportunity to hear him speak. The contrary argument ended the week, on Friday (following Campbell Bannerman’s Monday week starter) with Baron Daniel Finkelstein. Currently writing a football probability for The Times, alongside still being a keen political journalist, Lord Finkelstein presented us with the facts necessary to staying in the European Union and many self calculated probabilities, those even extending to football at the very end of his session with us, but he was also a very respectful man, who also happened to be quite funny, cracking the odd political joke here or there (which would have gone down well in a room full of politically interested women, who hoped for such respect). He presented his case for staying within the EU (which didn’t swing me, as I already had formed my opinions on the matter) which was just as clear as Campbell Bannerman’s; They both were passionate about the opinion that they thought was correct and would benefit our nation and Government, packed their presentations full of statistics and related issues to both the Conservative party and Government, and us, as teenagers ranging from age 16-18. This made the issue much more personal, which I think is quite an influence to many and a problem in politics generally (i.e. If it doesn’t relate to someone disinterested by party politics and the governing of the nation, it will barely be considered). Both of these guests were stimulating and my thanks for this opportunity goes to the WGGS GAPS committee, and Government and Politics and department.
The event at Haberdashers’ (‘Any Questions?’) happened to be to the same day on which the Chancellor of the Exchequer released his report of the 2016 budget. This provoked the opportunity to hear different conservative views on the government’s decisions (as many of the guests followed that alignment) and the contrasting and more, supposedly, controversial statements. It was questioned, by someone of my sixth form’s body, why austerity was still a tactic being used by the government when it had done no good in for the past six years; Dowden and Parris both stated that they opposed such a statement and essentially, that it had done wonders (even minimally) for the United Kingdom. Dr Ellie Canon opposed this opinion, stating that residents of the area of Camden, North London, would walk into the Doctor’s surgery not only with the medical condition they were seeking treatment for, but full of an exhaustion caused by unsolved poverty in the thriving area. This also came of relevance to the issue of the proposed sugar tax, when it was stated that sugary drinks weren’t the issue for illnesses, solely, and that, once more, it was a policy beneficial to only the more wealthy classes; This was justified due to the fact that sugary drinks are cheaper, therefore being the influence of purchase by families with a lesser amount of money to spend, so this tax would only plunge the country into greater poverty as they would still be a cheaper option, and families with more money are more able to afford the healthier alternative. I do very much agree with these views of Dr Cannon, and she also highlighted the need for equality within medical care (i.e. Highlighting the importance of a sufficient amount of money designated for Mental Health services). The views that she presented ensured that she soon gained an awful lot respect from me and my peers.
Aside my luck in being present in these events, there were many other things that have made the beginning of 2016 politically rich. And no, that was not an intended pun about the income of politicians…
Iain Duncan Smith’s resignation is a key example of collective responsibility; Although there have been two opinions on the reason for his resignation (one due to the disability cuts and the other with regards to the upcoming EU referendum) it shows that he did not stand with Cabinet, a force selected by our Prime Minister. Is this an example of disunity in the Conservative party? Of course, there are political factions within the party and that has been a long standing issue, as evident due to a similar referendum to June’s held in the 1970s (which I was not alive to have witness, being a nineties child) but is this a suggestion of a more long standing type of disunity? Well, there has been the resignation of an acclaimed member of the party, that’s all I can say.
There’s been another haunting worldwide issue that has been heightened recently, and that’s terrorism. In just the past few weeks, you may have heard about Turkey (in fact, multiple in this region, recently), the Ivory Coast, Belgium, and many more, though there have been a lot with insufficient media coverage. For a start, that needs to change- the media needs to cover and validate every life, every nationality and everyone affected rather than just those of nationalities who live in the countries geographically closest to us and seen as more developed. I posted a brief reference to this on my instagram, upon seeing the Belgian flag cast on the Paris town hall building during my trip to France. Every life is valid, and every life is valuable. Violence is not the answer. I wish we could all remember this and respect one another and every aspect of one another, and not only respect that, but appreciate it. We may all be different, with aspects of us that are the same. We can find love in both our similarities and differences.
Aside these affairs taking place, with the upcoming referendum around the corner, I’m taking this opportunity to influence you all to have your voice! Please participate politically by standing up for your belief, if you wish through campaigning and sharing your view, but most importantly, but VOTING. Unfortunately, I cannot vote, being 17, but if I could, I would jump at the opportunity, most certainly! Please have your say. This is important and will have an impact on us all, and if you don’t believe you are ‘politically aware’ enough, please make yourself. Even with the basic facts, if you don’t have an interest- it is vital to form an opinion and speak on behalf of the nation we are all a part of.
Edit: Since this has been written, around 25th March (and it is now being published on the 11th April, due to the focus I have had on the revision and work I’ve been doing for my AS exams), the Panama papers have emerged. It is quite disappointing to find figures that have such an important role, and who people have lay their trust in, for example David Cameron and Icelandic PM, (who has resigned, now) Gunnlaugsson, would involve themselves in such scandalous activities. Whether or not it is claimed to be ‘illegal’, it is immoral and infact, has no real benefit for them as, as declared by Author Jojo Moyes, on Twitter “How can any Prime Minister – or ex PM – benefit from offshore tax arrangements? Who do they think PAYS to keep the country running?” This is a statement I strongly highlight. It is also disappointing in the sense that it will cause a great sense of disillusionment in our society; If people don’t already think politics is corrupt enough, hence their lack of involvement and therefore the result of election turnouts being low, for example, the 2015 election just reaching 66%, this may give them a reason to stand back. There is a lot that can be said about the consequences of the Panama papers and I may write a follow up, detailed post specifically dedicated to it, but seeing as there is a lot in the air, at the moment, (as clear due to the #ResignCameron protests and social media movement) it may be best to do it in the near future, rather than at this minute. All I can say is, as much as I almost expected it, I am disappointed. An I strongly agree with on the issue, however, is Corbyn’s declaration that though it is important that Cameron’s benefit from offshore taxes needs to be declared, it isn’t just about our Prime Minister as an individual, but stopping tax evasion as a whole issue and ensuring everyone pays their taxes and contributes in the necessary way. This interview clip can be found here, thanks to Sky News and their Twitter account. 

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